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The business of online certification

This startup company tells you which online businesses are trustworthy
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The practice of certifying a business by a third party has been around since the end of the First World War with the establishment of the Geneva-based International Organization for Standardization in 1947. [Read why you need to be ISO-certified here]

Aside from ISO, the more common forms of certification are halal and environmental certifications. In the early 1990s, when online transactions started to become commonplace, certifying commercial websites became necessary in order for businesses and consumers alike to ascertain the legitimacy of the business they are transacting with online.

In the Philippines, Qartas Corp. aims to help Web users ascertain online transactions and protect them from fraud through its SureSeal Trust Mark, the country’s first online business verification service. Qartas launched SureSeal in March 2009. [Read about Halal certification here]

Combining the Internet knowledge and technical expertise of the people behind the company with time-tested authentication standards, Qartas aims to create the largest community of trusted homegrown businesses that comply with the highest standards of integrity, ethics and reliability.

Gerel Roa, chief operating officer of Qartas, notes that in the 1990s, most online trust marks back were associated with real-world trust marks. Roa cites, for instance, credit cards companies that allow only trusted parties known them physically to display their logos on their websites.

However, as online transactions, commercial websites and ecommerce portals increased, it has become virtually impossible for the website owner and users alike to know, with a physical certainty, the trustworthiness of all entities that use or go through their website.  [See five tips vs. online scams here]

Add to this the many incidences of online fraud like spamming, phishing and identity theft. This situation, Roa explains, necessitated the creation of third-party certification of commercial websites.

“Online trust marks came about as a proactive solution to Internet fraud,” says Roa. “Instead of companies having to find ways to catch the bad guys after the crime, online trust marks allow only the legitimate businesses to stand out in the Web.”

The importance of being certified by a credible third party has become necessary also for companies that engage in B2B (business to business) and B2C (business to customer) transactions.

Big or small, businesses of any size cannot simply rely on “word of honor” or “word of mouth” received from satisfied clients to gain the confidence of potential customers.

Given the huge number of businesses and customers that use the Net, even the best search engine will not be able to filter the legitimate businesses online, stresses Roa. “Nothing says you’re trustworthy better than someone else, like a third-part certification body, saying it about you.”

To avail of an online trust mark is as easy as securing accreditation from other certifying organizations. The SureSeal application process begins when the applicant-firm contacts Qartas Corp. to have their sites certified.

Qartas then sends a representative to the applicant to pick up the required documents—proofs of legal business credentials (registration with the trade department, local government, tax agency, among others) ownership of the website’s domain name, claims on the website, ownership of communication lines, and company-owned
bank account.

Qartas also requires the applicant-firm to have an acceptable privacy policy in the website. Qartas then verifies all these information, and makes sure that these exist in the real world. [Read Multiply embraces role as a socail shopping site here]

Upon paying the certification cost, which for SureSeal is priced at P16,800 (VAT inclusive) and renewable a year after at the same price—the applying compan is finally given a website seal code to be displayed on their website.

“Online trust marks are designed so that it will allow you to stand out even if you are just a very small business owner. Just by looking at your website’s seal, your customer will instantly know that you are a legitimate business. That’s how certifying your business by a third-party like us helps improve your bottom line,” says Roa.


QARTAS CORP.
www.sureseal.ph; www.qartas.com
Superius Unit 805 Asian Star Building, Asean
Drive, Filinvest Corporate City, Alabang,
Muntinlupa City
(02) 637-3210 and 11; info@sureseal.ph

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